Contending For The Faith

Posted by peter - November 9th, 2011

Before sending out this note I asked some who I have found are truly into what could be described as “Holy Living Grace Life” to critique what I had written. To me these folks “have the goods” so to speak.

The reason for my doing  this is because I  have been, what I feel is unjustly accused by some, of being unduly harsh in the past in dealing  with the “law men” and by some even  as being  unloving.  I have discovered that sometimes those who maintain that they are into grace and “not law men,” are in  fact just  masquerading as grace people. As far as I am concerned my standpoint on this matter is the same as the much maligned teacher, Andrew Wommack, whom I will quote: “Jesus plus nothing= everything, Jesus plus anything =nothing.  Simple it is, but that is the truth. Anything else is simply religious garbage and counts for absolutely nothing at all. One of those whom I asked to critique my notes had this to say, (and I quote) “The grace message makes religious people very angry and if you preach it you will be viciously attacked by them – you have been warned. Seriously they hate the grace message because it exposes their righteousness to the righteousness of Jesus and their best is no better than filthy rags in God’s sight.”

Before going into the main section of my notes I want to make one matter very clear. I am not advocating an “easy grace, anything goes theology.” Some have falsely accused me of this in the past. My standpoint  is simply in line with that of the Apostle Paul. who said in Romans 6: 1- 2, “ what shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may increase? (2) May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it.”

He elaborates further in Romans 6:  12 -18, “ Therefore  do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts (13) and do not go on presenting the members of your body as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God, (14)For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. (15) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! (16)  Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience, resulting in righteousness. (17) But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient FROM THE HEART to that form of teaching to which you were committed. (18) and having been free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

We are new creations in Christ Jesus and have new hearts as born-again children of the Most High God.  2 Corinthians 2: 17, fully explains our status with God. “ Therefore if any man is in  Christ, he is a new creature; the old things  passed away; behold new things have come.” We who have this new life in Jesus Christ do not  want to spoil the close fellowship we enjoy with Jesus  in any way whatsoever.

These days being popular with everyone  and being “politically correct” and non controversial seems to be the order of the day. I have discovered that for those who want to follow In the steps of our Master, the Lord Jesus,  and to be true to the wonderful gospel of grace, this is not always possible. Jesus of Nazareth was the most controversial figure of His time. In Matthew 10: 34 -38, He said “Think not that I am  come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword, (35) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.(36) and a man’s foes shall be of his own household, (37) and he that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me;  and he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.(38)He that find his life shall lose it : and he that loses his life for My sake shall find it.” In Luke 12; 51 -53, this is elaborated even more.

In Luke 6: 2,we are warned by Jesus about wanting the approval of men.”Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you; for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

Any stand for grace that is made against Law- keepers/Legalists is going to bring  a negative reaction but often, a hostile attitude is exhibited under the guise of Biblical truth.  False piety disguised as a soft approach is just as  poisonous as a more direct approach.

I have recently come up against legalists in proclaiming the truth of the  grace gospel. One particular altercation I had with a person who stated that he was a born-again Christian and who  repeatedly  proclaimed  that we should live under the Leviticus laws, and who  was not prepared  to  accept any Scripture that I quoted showing that the Law of commandments were dis-annulled  on the Cross and that the Law was not for Gentiles but, before Calvary, for the Jews. He got angrier and angrier with me, with ad-hominen (personal  attacks) being his modus operandi. I was “rebuked “ a few times, and even called a Satanist.  Eventually I had to withdraw because the whole exercise proved to be fruitless. For me to allow him to continue with his error and poison, would have meant that I was allowing him to sin and blaspheme.

Somebody later said to me that we must not argue over grace and the things of God. I went to the Lord over this. Whilst I was alone, I believe He gave me my answer in The Epistle of Jude, verse 3.” Beloved, while I  was making every effort  to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to  write to you, appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith, which was once for all, delivered to the saints (true believers)”.

As an aside, I must mention that In my 49 years as a born-again Christian, I have not, up to now, spent a great deal of time reading Jude, although I consider myself a Bible scholar. I did some research on the Internet on  Jude and discovered some interesting facts about this Christian who died as a martyr, together with Simon the Zealot.

The 14th Century writer Nicephorus Callistes, describes Jude as the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana in Galilee where Jesus turned water into wine. Tradition also says that Jude’s mother was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. Jude preached the gospel of Salvation in Christ in Judea, Samaria, Idumae (Edom in the Southern Levant – today’s Lebanon),Syria, Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and Libya, He was then martyred. Tradition has it that his father Clopas was murdered because of his devotion to Christ and the gospel. His two sons were also murdered by the Romans because of their total commitment to Christ.

In this family, “contending” for the gospel   cost  them dear. Most of them paid with their lives.

You may ask what did the Apostle Paul do to have the bad experiences such as those described in the following passages of Scripture? Some of the answer is given in Romans 1: 16,” For I am not ashamed of the  gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentiles).  2 Timothy 1: 8 -12,”therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or me, His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,(9) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. (10)  but now has been revealed by the appearing of our saviour Christ  Jesus who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (11) for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher (12) For this  reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”

The Apostle was incarcerated and later martyred by the crazy Roman Emperor Nero. He was decapitated.  Nero was a maniac who wanted everyone to worship him as God.

Paul proclaimed “For me to die is gain.”

It has been said that you can trust the original Apostles’ testimonies (obviously without the wicked Judas Iscariot), because of those men , eleven died martyrs’ deaths on the basis of two things: the death and resurrection of  Jesus Christ. These men were all totally sold out. Today, in the mild mannered prevalent religious scene, they would in all possibility have been described as crazy fanatics.

Jesus Christ was not politically correct and caused many religious people offence. Some of Paul’s  greatest critics and detractors were fellow believers who were Judaisers who proclaimed a law gospel to the Gentile  believers. These critics and opponents to truth,  were mostly the acceptable religious face of the time.

Regarding the 12 disciples  who later became the Apostles in the early church. Christ and their belief in Him as the Son of God, was their only creed. They caused much dissention through their preaching of the gospel.

They were tortured and flogged, and they were finally put to  death by some of the cruellest methods then known:

1)      Peter —————————–     Crucified.(upside down).

2)      Andrew ————————–     Crucified.(on a X cross, now known as a St. Andrews cross).

3)      Matthew ————————-    The sword .

4)      John ——————————-    Natural causes. (John wrote the book of Revelation while exiled to the Mediterranean Island of Patmos where he is reputed to have lived in a cave).

5)      James, son of Alpheus—— —-   Crucified.

6)      Phillip ——————————   Crucified.

7)      Simon  the Zealot  —————    Crucified.

8)      Thaddeus ————————-    Killed by arrows.

9)      James, the brother of Jesus  —    Stoned.

10)   Thomas  —————————    Spear thrust.

11)   Bartholomew ——————–     Crucified.

12)   James, son of Zebedee ——–     The sword.

As can be seen, in the early church period it was dangerous to be an outspoken Christian. All of these men were fearless preachers of the gospel of Christ. They are all known to be  men who were by no means what could be described today as politically correct. Like Paul who proclaimed that he was not ashamed of the gospel, or the offence it caused wherever it was proclaimed, these men did not shrink back when faced with the possibility of death. Like Paul they would all have said, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” There was none of the ineffective mealy mouthed approach which is so prevalent today.

They knew Jesus and knew that He could be completely trusted and He was their all.

A more modern example of a man who was totally  outspoken for God was Smith Wigglesworth. Wigglesworth, who some have described as a modern Apostle of faith, has at least 14 cases of raising the dead attributed to his ministry. He  died in 1948 at the age of 87 years. He was used of God in countless miraculous events at a time when the general teaching in the Evangelical church, was that the age of the miraculous gifts of the Holy spirit, and particularly healing, were passed. In some church circles faith healings were even wrongly attributed to Satan.(As they still are today).

I will quote from the book, ‘Smith Wigglesworth , the Secret of His  Power’, page 73,”Numerous marriages were saved through his ministry, but always through miraculous means because his approach was not tactful. Often it was the opposite, like that of a bull in a china shop. However , Wigglesworth was always earnest……….. After the couple had recovered from the initial shock of his approach, they would pour out their hearts to him. As he listened, tears would stream down his face. Every couple he counselled left with their problem solved”. Page 80…. ‘When he was asked about his method of approaching people, Wigglesworth answered, “It  all depends what the Father has to say.”His answer was the same when he was asked about the raising of the dead or the casting out of devils. He dealt with each case according to the direction he received from the Lord. When he directed a service, no one knew what direction it might take. Usually given a free hand, he always directed the services fearlessly’.  Page 81…..’ (He  sometimes did controversial and seemingly harsh and abrasive things)…… His critics would say, “He could have used a little diplomacy, at least”. It is doubtful that Smith Wigglesworth knew what diplomacy meant. He simply addressed each situation as God told him to so no one could misunderstand. Had he tried to be diplomatic, the atmosphere could well have been destroyed.’ Sometimes  he was abused and severely criticised, but no matter what, the miracles and persons saved mounted  up. It is said that he expected at least 50 persons to come to a knowledge of  salvation at a Sunday meeting. This usually happened.

In the book ‘Smith Wigglesworth – Apostle of Faith’ this story is told, page 118,’One day in Cardiff in Wales, a man who was known for large heartedness together a large and representative group of Christian leaders, spoke, none of them acute enough to hurt anyone’s feelings. Everything seemed to be going very well, and the organiser beamed his satisfaction. But there was one man in that large audience who was stirred up by the thought “All these folk are missing God’s best. Can I remain criminally silent and not tell this great audience that there is a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit  for everyone of them like that which the disciples received on the Day of Pentecost?” and so that man, our courageous Great heart, caused no small stir when he arose, took off his coat and came forward in his shirt- sleeves, and from the platform sent out this challenge. “If I had  all you have now before I received this, what is this I have received since and in addition to all I had when I had all you have?” Then he added,” I was saved among the Methodists when I was about eight years of age. A little later I was confirmed by a bishop of the church of England. Later I was immersed by a Baptist. I had the grounding in Bible teaching among the  Brethren. I marched under the Blood and Fire banner of the Salvation Army, learning to win souls in the open air. I received the second blessing of sanctification and a clean heart under the teaching of Reader Harris and the Pentecostal League. I claimed the gift of the Holy Spirit by faith as I waited for ten days before the Lord. But in Sunderland in 1907, I knelt before God and had an Acts2: 4 experience. The Holy Spirit came and I spoke with new tongues as did the company  in the upper room. That put my experience outside the  range of argument, but inside the record of God’s Holy Word. God gave me the Holy Spirit as He did to them at the beginning.”  He said, I want harmony, unity and oneness, but I want them in God’s way. In the Acts of the Apostles, speaking with new tongues was the sign of the infilling of the infilling and out flowing of the Holy Spirit, and I do not believe that God has changed His method.” A tense atmosphere filled the building and the chairman hurriedly brought the meeting to a close. But Smith Wigglesworth had sent out his challenge. He felt that the Pentecostal testimony was worth standing  for and he always fought a good fight, a fight for the distinctive testimony of the Pentecostal believer he felt that the Pentecostal heritage must not be bartered for the mess of pottage and lack of controversy or conflict.

To me it is wonderful that this servant of God moved forward over time following the progressive revelation of the Holy Spirit.

The baptism of the Spirit later swept the world in the Charismatic renewal and other moves of God.

Today we are in the throes of what has been described as the “Grace Revival or Grace Revolution.” As what happened in earlier moves of God, men like Warren Litzman, Andrew Wommack, Joseph Prince, Rob Rufus and  others,  have caught the  vision and proclaimed the Grace alone gospel. They have been, and are, strongly criticised  and maligned.  “Too extreme” I have heard some say. “Take it easy, don’t cause offence by insisting on no law. Keep the unity, etc, etc,  etc. If you are too insistent you might offend or hurt somebody. If you push too much grace, the next thing you will have the flock going back into sin and worldliness.”

The Scripture says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”(Hosea 12: 6). We must all know what the Word teaches about these so very important matters. Law for us Christians is simply to be treated as “past tense” and under no circumstances for now. Jesus did it all for now and for all eternity. Hallelujah. Praise his name!

The Lord, I believe, has shown me that we must in no way compromise grace with the poison of Law keeping.  In no way whatsoever, no matter who is offended or who take s offence.

I have discovered that popularity and the approval and praises of men are fleeting.

Only God’s approval lasts.

We must all make an uncompromising stand for grace. It is the only way. There is no other acceptable way.

Not accepting total grace in Christ Jesus is an affront to Him who paid the extreme price for  our salvation.

Jesus is Lord.

With love,

Neville Laing.

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